Business Retention and Expansion in Phoenix

Article excerpt

Expansion of a firm in a community does not always equate to bricks and mortar, but it often means an increase in employees, payroll, capital, or improvement of the bottom line. All of these have a positive impact on the business atmosphere in a community. Establishing outreach activities to assist in the growth and promotion of existing companies will boost the business vitality formula.

The direct benefits of a business retention and expansion (BR&E) program include avoiding potentially lost jobs and the detrimental effect of payroll lost from those jobs. Retained businesses may have greater potential for expansion, and employees from retained companies are ideal candidates for start-up businesses in a community.

Business retention also projects a positive, proactive image of the community for future business attraction. Identifying problems and concerns early can determine whether a business succeeds or fails.

A good indicator for indentifying a potential relocation or closure is having and updating a business inventory. A database of basic company information should include name of business, contact person, address, phone, e-mail address, as well as the most recent census data and other published information on that business.

Developing a community profile will prove valuable. What are the strengths and weaknesses? What key issues affect businesses, services, regulations, infrastructure, and restrictions? What issues need or may need to be addressed before they develop into insurmountable problems? This information will help identify business clusters that will point to expansion or downsizing.

In greater Phoenix, Arizona, business retention, expansion, and start-ups are critical. From 2003 through 2008, the city of Phoenix Community and Economic Development Department's (CEDD) small-business division used a software tool provided through the Arizona Public Service's Building Bridges to Business program to meet with small- to medium-size firms (from 1 to 250 employees) in the areas of advanced manufacturing, information technology, biosciences, business services, and health care.

The software allows staff to collect data from confidential surveys with individual firms into a secure database. It then aggregates and analyzes the data to achieve three main benefits:

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